Has God Offended You?

He did everything right. He was filled with the Spirit before his birth. He renounced physical comforts. He lived in the desert, focusing on God and His service. He traveled relentlessly up and down the Jordan preparing people to receive Christ when He came. He faithfully proclaimed a message of repentance and he ostracized himself from elite society by pointing out the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. He recognized Jesus when He came and even baptized His own Lord in obedience. People started to follow Jesus and his own ministry declined. He accepted it in humility without jealousy. Let’s face it, John the Baptist was a pretty awesome individual.

So why is he left to waste in prison–Herod’s prison–a nasty fellow, a man of total depravity? Jesus is God’s Son, right? He’s devoted everything to Him. Jesus is performing miracles and John is still in prison? Would it be so hard to free him? The days go by and John’s faith is tested to the breaking point. Finally he calls two of his followers to him and sends them to Jesus. He just needs to know that he hasn’t gotten everything wrong. And here we have one of the most poignant interchanges between a suffering servant and his Lord:

‘And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

And he [Jesus] answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”’ Luke 7

Jesus’ answer said it all. Yes, He was the Messiah, doing all the miracles the Coming One would do. And then Jesus said something that still resonates in the heart of every believer. “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

I never considered that I could be offended by God. I love Him for all He has done for me. But following Him is not a bed of roses. Actually, maybe it is, come to think of it. His presence graces our days with beauty and the fragrance of truth, but thorns are there for anyone who follows long enough. Obedience pricks the fingers of those who live in God’s garden. He asks us to do hard things, to love difficult people, to deny ourselves for the good of others. Doing all this for a short time is one thing–but when the trial is protracted? When hard situations hold no promise for change? How do we feel then? Angry? Cheated? Offended? Hopeless?

Jesus said, “Blessed in the one who is not offended by me.” When we are tempted to be offended at our lot, and yet choose to believe God’s promise that He loves us, has good plans for us, disciplines us for our good, and is preparing a place for us, we do something we could never have done without walking through trials–we honor Him, we glorify Him, and, best of all, we express true love to Him. “We become a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing unto God.”

So my  rose garden has now taken on new meaning for me. I will remember that the thorns of obedience will always be with me in this life…after all, who am I to complain? Jesus was crowned with them.


Advertisements

Could I Ask For More?

What a joy to be a child of God!  What satisfaction is found when, after being reconciled to the Father through Christ, we come under His Kingship.  The greatest Mind becomes our tender Father. We rest in the turmoil of this life because He is wise enough to give us what is best. We clap our hands because we know the best is yet to come. 

4He will choose our inheritance for us,
The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah   Psalm 47

Iran, Iraq, and Something We Can Do

 

God sees the strife of the nations.  The Bible is replete with passages that talk of His concern for the oppressed.  It is totally within His power to call up leaders who can accomplish His plan and do it well, without falling prey to the vices of ambition.  Let us pray fervently for places like Iran, Iraq, North Korea, etc…anywhere we see people hungering for freedom or striving to protect it.  Let’s anticipate and watch for God’s answer and rejoice when we see it!

I Samuel 12

6Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt.”

“ 23Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.” (Samuel)

Church Drama

Acts 1:23-26

And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. — NKJV

Reviewing Church history is an enlightening and sometimes surprising experience.  In it one sees the concurrent motions of sinful man, striving and often missing the mark, and the Holy Spirit correcting and guiding.  The wonder of it all is that Christ’s work has continued despite man’s failings and will even beyond our day.  Jesus promised that the “gates of hell will not prevail against it [the church].”  That includes the forces of sin within as well as without her walls.

He Sees and Cares

 Psalm 50

15Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

16But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to declare My statutes,
Or take My covenant in your mouth,

17Seeing you hate instruction
And cast My words behind you?

18When you saw a thief, you consented with him,
And have been a partaker with adulterers.

21These things you have done, and I kept silent;
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.

22“Now consider this, you who forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:

23Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God.”

Why cast His Word behind us?  He gives it so that we may have life and have it abundantly.  That is the Great Deception…to treat the pleasures of sin as more real than the promises of the One Who loves us most of all.  Is the thrill of sex outside His plan worth it?  Is it possible to believe that a Creator who gave the earth its perfect tilt, perfect mass, and perfect rotation doesn’t have a perfect plan for sexual relationships?  Or do we not believe in Him at all? 

Oh, but He is VERY real!